Act Like Men

Men—what comes to mind when you hear the phrase “act like a man”? Maybe it teleports you back to the baseball diamond and the harshness of your dad’s voice after missing that third pitch. Or maybe it’s what runs through your mind in the middle of the night as you ruminate about that big mistake you made in the meeting yesterday.

We all aspire to a certain vision of manhood, but most of us feel like we constantly come up short. No doubt, part of the problem is that we’re sinful, broken men stumbling our way towards holiness. But what if it’s also that we don’t actually have a real vision of what it means to be a man?

We all aspire to a certain vision of manhood, but most of us feel like we constantly come up short.

In her Washington Post op-ed, Christine Emba makes the case that men are lost in our world today. She laments, “Past models of masculinity feel unreachable or socially unacceptable; new ones have yet to crystallize. What are men for in the modern world? What do they look like? Where do they fit?” We desperately need a positive vision of what it means to be a man.

Fortunately, the One who created Adam (the Hebrew word for “man”), the One who incarnated into a man’s body in the person of Jesus, and the One who has revealed Himself as “Father” has given us this gift in His Word. There are numerous Scriptures we could cite, but consider Paul’s closing words to the church in Corinth:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, ACT LIKE MEN, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV)

Paul closes his letter by exhorting the entire community in Corinth—both men and women—to “act like men.” It’s a singular word in the original Greek: andrizomai. The word literally means to conduct oneself in a courageous way. Some translations render verse 13 as “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous, be strong,” (NIV). Why would some translations say “act like men” and others “be courageous”?

Because they’re synonymous. Andrizomai is an idiom with a dual meaning. The men of Paul’s day used andrizomai to say, “Man-up.” Think back to being 15 years old and with your group of friends. Say you’re hanging out on a hot summer day and you get the idea to go cliff-jumping. You boldly volunteer to go first, but then you glance down at the 25-ft drop to the water and you freeze. You’re second guessing if you can do it and then your friends shout out “man-up!” All of a sudden you take the plunge. That’s andrizomai.

Paul is telling the entire community of Corinth to act like men, to jump, to do the hard thing in the face of danger.

Courage and godly masculinity are synonymous. (This is not to say that women aren’t wildly courageous. Some of the most incredible feats of bravery throughout history have been led by women: Esther, Ruth, Deborah, Mary the mother of Jesus, Priscilla, Joan of Arc, Rosa Parks, sexual assault survivors, single moms, and countless other examples).

But Paul is clearly injecting spiritual significance into a cultural assumption about masculinity. And notice that he sandwiches andrizomai inside four other imperatives: be watchful, stand firm in the faith, be strong, do everything in love.

Godly men are alert. They assume the realities of spiritual warfare. They don’t stay home playing videogames and watching porn; they climb the watchtower and scan the horizon for enemy activity refusing to let sin and evil storm an open gate to their lives and community. They protect their community by being watchful.

When temptation, sin, and evil inevitably confront their lives, they stand firm in the faith. Galatians 5:1 reminds us that “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Godly men don’t waver, they don’t give into temptation. They are all in for Jesus and remain faithful to Him even when it’s hard.

This, of course, requires strength. Godly men aspire to have strong knees more than strong arms. Your spiritual strength is determined by how much you rely on the Lord, the One who is truly strong. King David understood this: “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge…” (Psalm 18:1-2). Jesus modeled this on His ever-strong knees in the garden, having submitted Himself to the Father in the face of tremendous suffering. Godly strength sacrifices for the needs and benefit of others in love.

Your spiritual strength is determined by how much you rely on the Lord, the One who is truly strong.

The final command is the crescendo: “Let all that you do be done in love.” According to Paul, to act like a man means to do everything in love. How’s that going for you? If I interviewed the people closest to you and asked for one word to describe you, would they say “love”? Love isn’t a feeling, it’s an action. Jesus taught that we demonstrate our love for Him by obeying His commands. And the Apostle John reminds us that “His commandments aren’t burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

If that’s a new idea to you, come join us at The Forge. We gather as a community of men every Tuesday night to learn the way of Jesus, the way of love. We long to see a community of men who are radically devoted to Christ and actively engaged in the building of His Church. Every man has a role to play in this endeavor. So, my brothers, andrizomai, have courage, get off the bench, and jump in. Let’s show the watching world a compelling vision of godly masculinity marked by love.


Jason Belcher


Have you signed up for the Men’s Retreat yet? SBC men are heading up to Lost Canyon in Williams on April 12 for an unforgettable weekend of inspiring teaching, relaxation, fun and encouragement!